Shoei GT-Air Motorcycle Helmet Review

When helmet manufacturers release new models or update existing ones, they often incorporate new features or adopt them from other helmets in their lineup. The GT-Air is an all-new full-face helmet from Shoei that combines new and existing features, and is priced between the top-of-the-line X-Twelve and the popular RF-1100.

Like other Shoei helmets, the shell is made of AIM (Advanced Integrated Matrix), a proprietary sandwich of organic fibers between two layers of fiberglass. At 57.6 oz., the GT-Air is lighter than the Qwest (59.2 oz.) but heavier than the RF-1100 (56 oz.). Part of the additional heft comes from the standard Pinlock fog-resistant insert and the QSV-1 internal sun shield, both of which are found on the Neotec flip-up but are now offered for the first time on one of Shoei’s full-face helmets. The sun shield is lowered and raised with an easily used slider on the left side of the helmet, and is like putting on a dark pair of sunglasses. It’s handier than a dark shield in tunnels and such, and gives the wearer a kind of fighter pilot look. The forehead area of the shell is raised slightly to accommodate the sun shield and keep the inner multi-piece, multi-density EPS liner intact. The shell has a large, integrated spoiler at the back, which is bigger than the rear spoiler on either the Qwest or RF-1100 and reduces lift and drag for a less fatiguing ride.

Shoei GT-Air Motorcycle Helmet
Shoei GT-Air Motorcycle Helmet

To reduce wind noise, Shoei used a wind tunnel to guide the sculpting of the GT-Air’s shape. The comfort liner around the neck is also thicker and snugger, which presented some challenges when sliding the helmet over my head until it broke in. A new dual-ridge rubber bead for the face shield also cuts down on noise and ensures a watertight seal. For a better field of view, the new CNS-1 face shield is larger and wider than the CW-1 shield that preceded it, and it (along with the sun shield) blocks 99 percent of UV rays. Shoei has also updated its spring-loaded quick-release base plate, now called the QR-N, for even easier shield changes.

Ventilation is critical to any good helmet, and as you’d expect with a name like GT-Air, it flows well. The GT-Air has a prominent chin vent, a large air scoop at the top with a dual, three-position intake vents and exhaust vents on the rear spoiler. Surrounding one’s precious pate is a removable, washable, replaceable and moisture-wicking 3D Max-Dry comfort liner. The 3D center pad closely matches the contours of the rider’s head and I found the fit to be comfortably snug (cheek pads can be changed to customize fit). Like the X-Twelve and VFX-W racing helmets, the GT-Air is equipped with Shoei’s E.Q.R.S. (Emergency Quick Release System), which allows medical personnel to extract the cheek pads and safely remove the helmet. The breath guard and chin curtain are removable and the chin strap secures with a D-ring.

When it comes to helmets, I welcome any improvement in aerodynamics, noise reduction, field of vision, comfort and convenience. The new GT-Air delivers on all of these claims. My only complaint is that the Pinlock insert—an increasingly popular addition to various manufacturers’ helmets—increases glare from headlights at night. The GT-Air is available in solids ($549.99), metallics ($579.99) and graphics ($670.99). Shoei uses three shell sizes to cover six helmet sizes (XS-XXL), and the company provides a five-year limited warranty.

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(This Gear Lab article was published in the June 2013 issue of Rider magazine.)


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